Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Everyone Deals With Grief Differently

This morning, I walked into the garage to get dog food and my 19-year old cat was lying in a strange position very stiffly.

She passed in her sleep last night.

In some ways, this is a relief, because she'd seemed off the last couple of days and last night, Sweetie Pie told me that I needed to call the vet today, that it might be time to have her put to sleep since she didn't seem to be doing well and he'd had trouble rousing her when he got home last night.

When he said this, I didn't even respond to him, because it's something that I just haven't been wanting to do for a long time. I've put pets to sleep, too many and the idea of doing it again, this time to a cat I've had since I've been 14-years old, a cat who knew me when I was awkward, acne-covered and a virgin, it just seemed like too much to bear.

I came into the house after petting my cat's dead body, her body stiff with death, the life that had been in her clearly gone, found Sweetie Pie who was under the shower and cried. I cried for the cat I had lost and cried with the relief that I wouldn't have to make that horrible decision once again, wouldn't have to sit holding another animal as the life left its body.

Sweetie Pie made sure to remove the body from the garage to take it to be cremated. So that I wouldn't have to see her again and Little Man wouldn't have to see her, not that he'd even know what was going on.

I grappled with telling him and then thought that I needed to.

This morning, as we had breakfast, I told him I needed to talk to him.

I explained to him that people and pets get to be very old and eventually their bodies get to be too old and when that happens they die and go to heaven. He looked at me confused and said "why?"

Clearly? I was unprepared for this discussion and should have probably waited until I'd googled "talking to three-year old about death" before having this conversation.

I began to cry softly and told him that it's just what happens when people are too old. But that in heaven no one hurts and that she was now chasing birds and meowing and happy and she could walk as fast as she wanted again (since her arthritis got bad the last couple of years).

Little Man pointed at me stunned and with a grin on his face, he yelled "YOU'RE CRYING!!!!!"

I guess, thinking about it, he's never seen me cry before, as I'm not the type who goes around bawling every two seconds.

I told him that I was sad, and that I missed Old Cat. I then asked him if he was going to miss Old Cat.

"No, she didn't play with me. I miss eating waffles for breakfast though."

Uhm. Right.



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Light Shade of Green Comes From His Texan Father

I'm an environmentalist, for the most part. I'm not perfect by any means, hell, I do drive a Jeep Liberty but totally will at least seriously consider a hybrid of some kind when my Jeep dies (because it's paid off, and I intend to drive this puppy to its grave).

Sweetie Pie, on the other hand, didn't even own a recycling bin until I moved down here. But he's gotten better in the past nine years, partly because he knows I will withhold loving if I find a recyclable item in the trash.

I should totally run the EPA. I could totally make America the greenest country in the world just by having all of my hot chick friends work with me and threaten to withhold sex. No one would even think of going to the grocery store without reusable bags then.

This morning, Meredith Vieira reminded me that today is Earth Day. I turned to Little Man and said "It's Earth Day! The day where we remember the importance of taking care of planet Earth!"

Little Man: ?????

- Like for example, we need to remember to turn off the light when we're not using it."

Little Man's face lights up with understanding

"Yeah! And Mama, we need to remember to turn on the light when we need to use it."



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Six Months: My Letter to Tiny Man

If I can summarize this month in two words, it'd be drool and screaming.

The drool was yours. And continues to be. You have drooled so much this past month, that I think they've called an end to the drought, despite the fact it's rained maybe twice in 2009. You could have filled all of the pools of North Texas with all that drool, but instead you chose to smear it on me, your father, your brother and anyone else willing to get close enough to your drooliness.

All that drool is clearly caused by your teething, and I swear to you, if those freaking teeth don't show up in the coming days, I'm going to get in there and yank them out myself, because dear Lord, how cruel can teeth be that they've been causing you to shove your fist in your mouth with the force of a hundred gladiators for almost two months now.

Yet, you remain in good spirits, smiling at anyone who remotely makes eye contact with you. You charm everyone who has the pleasure to be graced with your presence. Last Friday, I took you into the office, since your freaking teeth caused you to have a fever. If you look this up, the Internet will tell you that teething does not cause fevers. Tiny Man, there's a lot of things the Internet is useful for. It's great for finding coupons and porn, for example. However, it is very, very wrong about teething and fevers, because your brother always had a fever right before his teeth came in, and you seem to follow suit. So the Internet can shove it.

Because you had a fever, you couldn't go to school, since they have rules about this sort of thing, teething or no teething, so we dropped off your brother at school and I dragged you into the office, figuring I'd get some work done while you napped in my cubicle. You always fall asleep in the car on the way to school. ALWAYS. But that day, you decided to make an exception, because why wouldn't you make my life a little more exciting? So I brought you into the office wide awake, running late and half listening to a conference call. As soon as one of my coworkers spotted you, she literally kidnapped you and proceeded to take you around the building.

For the next hour and a half, I was stuck at my desk on a conference call, your empty car seat the only reminder that I'd brought you into the office. Ever so often, I could hear your excited squeals down the hall, but I was unable to fetch you due to the damn conference calls. When I finally came to get you, you were surrounded by a legion of fans, all of them having bestowed gifts of stuffed animals, makeshift rattles and other toys upon you and when you spotted me, you smiled at me with a "hey! There you are! Have you met my new friends?" look on your face.

I dragged your feverish ass back to my cubicle to change your diaper, give you a bottle and let everyone get back to work, and after doing so, you finally fell asleep, more than two hours later than you usually nap. A mere 45 minutes later, a couple of coworkers who'd heard through the grapevine you were in the building came to see you. As we chatted, you opened your eyes with a "what? there's a party going on and no one told me" look and you proceeded to go to Act Two of the Tiny Man charm act, smearing drooly fists all over their faces while giving them the world's biggest gummy smiles.

Where do you come from, little one? I'm sociable, but you? You? You have future president of the United States charisma. You've never met someone you didn't like and you're the kind of person who walks into a room and people think "thank God! The party can get started now!" You have an aura about you, an energy that make people do things for you. There's this curmudgeon at work who hates children. But the story goes that he met you, you smiled at him and he reached out to hold you. If you can make children haters change their minds, could you bring world peace? The end of racism? Or maybe you can just continue to make our lives a little brighter, as you have for six months now.

Your squeals of joy at everything sound like a teenager's screams at a Jonas brothers concert. No longer can I do conference calls with you in the room when I'm at home, as you squeal the entire time, which honestly, I'm good at my job, but not good enough to deserve squeals for hours at a time.

I spoke of screaming earlier, and you probably are assuming that I mean your squeals, but you'd be wrong. Because as much as I love you, as much as I think that you might be the best thing I've done since your big brother, you do have one fault.

The flipping over to your stomach. Dear lord child, you will make me go insane with your flipping over. It started a month or so ago. I put you on your back for floor time with your brother, went to get myself a kleenex and walked in to find you on your stomach grunting. I assumed your brother had flipped you over, but he denied it, and since you seemed to be unable to flip over to your back, I helped you.

Since then? I've helped you approximately 8,000 times. Because you can't seem to remember how to roll over from front to back, even though you reached that milestone three months ago and it's the easier way to roll over.

But you? You seem to have forgotten this skill and no matter how many times I've tried to re-teach you, you get a 'tude like "whoah lady, you can't teach an old dog new tricks!" And really? If you're this set in your ways at this age, I'm really hoping I won't be around when you're 80 years old.

The whole rolling over fiasco is especially annoying when I put you down in your crib. And you decide you're unhappy to be there and you roll over. And then you proceed to scream while you flop around like a fish out of water. But if I give in and go up to flip you over, I barely have time to close the door before you've flipped onto your stomach again. And really, life is short, I'm not willing to spend it flipping you over for the next 18 years, so can you please figure this out and soon before you drive me to insanity?

We play tag with your brother all the time on my bed and it's a favorite game for both of you. I basically hold your little body under your armpits and make you "run" after your brother and swing your body up so that you tag him with your feet. You both always end up in hysterics and during those times, as I watch the two of you together, I always think that I could literally be struck by lightning at that moment and killed, and I would die perfectly happy. The joy of watching the two of you together and the bond you're developing makes the pounds I still have to lose totally worth it.

You can now sit up fairly well with a little support, so the other day I let you ride in your brother's 'train' which is really just the pillows in our bed put in a row. You sat behind your brother, holding on to the wall to support yourself. And as he made choo choo noises, you sat behind him the entire time grinning ear to ear, like you couldn't believe that you were finally big enough to participate in his crazy imagination games, rather than just be an observer.

Soon, you'll be able to crawl and you'll grab things from your brother and the fighting will begin. I just hope that during those times, when I'm ready to sell both of you to the gypsies if I have to listen to fighting for one more minute, that I'll remember this period in your lives where everything was perfect and at peace.

Yet, I can't believe you're already six months old. I feel time is slipping away from us, your babyhood running away from me and already you seem so big when I hold you, your feet laying past the arm of the rocking chair where I hold you a little too long every night, futively trying to hold on to your infancy a little longer. You're my baby, and yet, already you're more than two-and-a-half times bigger than the day you were born. Your wispy hair is longer and I love to feel it against my neck when you're burying your head against me when I pick you up at school, in your version of a hug.

You're growing up too fast little one, and some nights, when I hold you, tears prick my eyes, as I'm already missing the baby that I still get to hold, knowing that before too long, you too will be a gangly toddler, your thigh rolls erased by the cruel hand of time, your gums filled with teeth, your baby cheeks replaced by the face of a boy. And despite the fact that I will love the boy you will soon become, I will miss the baby I currently hold.

Stay little for me just a little longer, will you? Let me continue to rock you too long in the silent night, the darkness that envelop us broken only by the softness of your night light, while the craziness of the world seems so far away. Those are the moments that I know I'll look back on when I'm taking my last breaths, and I will know then, as I do now, that you and your brother will have been my greatest joys.

I love you, my Tiny Man,


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Secret Dreams Exposed

Last week, Little Man's school had a Scholastic book fair, which is basically this mobile bookstore that moves into the school and sells books at supposedly a lower price, when you're charged the price on the back of the book, just like you would be at Border's or Barnes & Noble. However, a portion of the sales goes back to the school who, despite getting more money from us every month than the mortgage company does, apparently needs more.

Last week, in an attempt to boost sales, each child was brought to the book fair and told to choose four or five books that they wish their parents would buy for them. This is a little like telling Little Man that he can have candy for breakfast and I'm sure they had to pick him off the floor from the shock of being told he can pick anything he wants.

That night, Little Man gave me his list and I laughed at it so hard, that I practically had my lung collapse.

Choice #1: Thomas the Train -- Track Stars: This totally makes sense, Little Man loves Thomas the Train, and for almost a month straight, I was forced to read the horribleness that is Gordon Gets in Trouble, which my Sister-in-Law gave him for Christmas. Dear Lord are those books ever horrible.

Choice #2: Froggy Gets a Bicycle: Once again, of course Little Man would pick this, his love of frogs is well-known by the stuffed frog that he carries almost everywhere, and a story about one who rides a bike, well shit on me and call me Harry, that sounds like a fantastic time.

Choice #3: Sleep Black Bear: A random choice, but sure, whatever.

Choice #4: Learn to Draw Fairies: Of course, Little Man, has an artistic side, so it makes sense that he'd want to learn to draw. Wait? What? He wants to learn to draw what? Fairies? Let's ask Little Man what prompted this choice.

"Hey, Little Man, so why did you pick a book about learning to draw fairies?

(shoulder shrug) "Fairies are pretty."

Translation? My son just wants to draw hot chicks.



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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

As My Fourth Anniversary as a Parent Quickly Approaches

There are many things that I've learned from being a parent. And I thought that it might be time for me to post some of them, so that should I have some kind of accident and wake up in a sitcom where I've forgotten how to do everything, I've got it here:

- A large wad of spit up in one's hair is not enough of a reason to wash one's hair.

- The fastest way to get over your queasiness of vomit is to have a three-year old who is clearly about to toss his cookies on your couch. Suddenly, you will use all appendages of your body as a vomit shield without giving it a second thought.

- Once covered in vomit, you'll be thrilled by the vision of your vomit-free couch and not care that you're wearing close to a pound of bodily fluids.

- Even if you've only been asleep half an hour, the whining of 'I need to go potty' by a newly potty trained two-year old will see you sprint up to the second floor in 1.2 seconds.

- The number of times a mother has been peed or pooped on is directly correlated to the number of times she has tried to dress up and look nice.

- When you give a three-year old gum for the first time, you can never tell him too many times that he is not to swallow it under circumstances and that you'll take it from him when he's done.

- You should not be surprised when the three-year old tells you his gum is in his tummy, despite the fact you told him 342 times not to swallow it.

- You will resolve to tell your three-year old not to swallow gum 343 times next time. Or just wait until he's 18 to him gum again.

- When your three-year old tries to use the system to his advantage by crying out in the middle of the night, knowing full well you'll throw him in your bed and he'll get to sleep with you, do not try to break him of the habit by telling him that he's acting like a baby and that you'll put him in a crib if he ever does it again for no reason. You might be exhausted with it being the middle of the night and not thinking clearly, but you are simply ensuring the child has more fodder to use against you with his future therapist.

- A two year old with a deadly fear of mascots, Easter bunnies and other characters will still be deadly afraid at three-and-a-half. However, a three-and-a-half year old's screams are much louder than a two-year old's and trying to force your child to sit on the Easter bunny's lap despite his fear makes you look like that mom, the one with the psycho screaming child.

- Despite knowing better than to smirk at that mom, you'll learn that next time you see her, you should buy her a martini.

- A three-year old who decides to wipe his own butt can manage to smear poop on the toilet seat and clog the toilet in under 30 seconds.

- A three-year old who throws a hard toy at his baby brother's head because he wanted to play catch with him will cry harder than the five-month old who got bonked. When you ask him why he's crying, you'll figure out that it's because he's heartbroken by the fact that he was a bad big brother, despite his parents telling him that he's three years old and that he's finally acting like a normal child.

- The best part of waking up in the morning is walking into a five-month old's room and being greeted with the world's biggest gummy smiles, as your heart melts into a big pile of confection sugar goo. And then to have said heart explode as you hear his squeals of delight at seeing you.



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Monday, April 13, 2009

Mothers' Addictions Do Impact the Children

So, this couponing thing? It's getting out of control. I'm completely and utterly addicted to free and cheap stuff. No, I'm totally freaking serious you guys, I have been known to loiter the aisles of my nearest Walgreen's and CVS and pounced on the free stuff as soon as they put it on the shelves. Every single cashier at both stores know me and my kids and I'm sure they feel sorry for my poor kids who get dragged around, when each visit consists of two, three, sometimes even six transactions.

But Little Man? He loves it. Not quite as much as me, because no one does, but he has grown to love the thrill of the hunt. While his father is out hunting turkeys (no, I'm not making this up, it's turkey hunting season here in Texas, and it does not involve shooting them in their pen like I first thought when we started dating. There are turkeys. In the wild. Who knew? Even crazier? They didn't escape from Old Macdonald's farm.), Little Man is out hunting for bargains with me. Whenever I load him and his little brother in the car for a run, I always warn him how many stores we're going to hit. I do this so that he can track how close to done we are done if he gets bored, but also, because I always promise him a treat at the end of our shopping runs, and he can keep track how close he is to chocolate.

Once we get to a store, I always tell him how many transactions we're going to need to do. For example, I'll say "we're at Walgreen's, and we'll need to go to the cash register four times."

I see some of you are confused. And there's no simple way for me to explain this to you. Except to say that Walgreen's and CVS have these items that spit out a coupon for the full value of the item when you check out. I apply that coupon to my next transaction, which is for another item that gives me another coupon for the value of that item. That way, I spend as little money as possible. It's a complicated dance, a little bit like the tango, except that it requires zero coordination, therefore way up more my alley.

Little Man now tells me when he sees the Walgreen's sign, "there's Walgreen's. Let's go in, Mama, and go to the register five times, ok?" This is his way of asking for chocolate.

Even more disturbing? He's now asked me if someday, when he gets married, I can teach his wife to shop. So that she can buy him chocolate too.

I believe that if Pavlov hadn't been around, I would have figured out his theory myself. Except in our household, coupons are what makes my child salivate.

Another example of the impact of my latest craze? Little Man has begun lining up the pillows on our bed and getting between them and the wall. He calls this his train. The other day, he asked Sweetie Pie if he'd like to ride in his train. When Sweetie Pie boarded the train, he asked Little Man where the train was going. Little Man said to him "We have to go to four stores today... First Walgreen's, then Albertson's. And at Walgreen's we have to go four times, ok?"



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Friday, April 03, 2009

Forty-Three Months: My Letter to Little Man

Oh what a month it's been my Little Man... With the low lights definitely being your lice infestation and the stomach virus that have left you looking like a child those Christian organizations always want me to adopt for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day.

Your head had to be shaved. Twice. You've mastered the art of throwing up in a toilet without any of it splashing you in the eye, which means I've filled out applications to the top party colleges already, because you're way ahead of me on that one and surely, that counts for more than those stupid SAT scores.

But there were good times, too. Like how you got to spend a whole week with your Mamou and Dadou (as did your pet lice) and you went to a different fun place every day, which means that last week, after going back to school for four days you asked "when are Mamou and Dadou coming back? How about Friday? Because that works for me."

Not that you didn't show your stubborn side to your grandparents too. You decided that you didn't want to see the monkeys, no matter how much Mamou and Dadou tried to convince you it'd be fun. And then you decided that they shouldn't go see them either, because if there's one thing you like to do, is ensure that if you're not having a good time, then no one's allowed to have a good time. Some might say that this is a fault of yours, but the way I see it, it means you'll be middle management by the time you graduate from college.

You were, however, fascinated by the elephant. Which sounds sweet, of course. But you were fascinated by the giant mammal only because there was the largest pile of poop you'd ever seen in your whole life, and as the elephant walked around his pen, he came dangerously close to stepping in the poop!!!! Which is your equivalent to the most. dramatic. rose. ceremony. ever. to me. And if that Bachelor reference isn't dated by the time you read this and I'm still obsessed with the show, then Little Man, I grant you permission to have me committed.

Which speaking of poop, I can no longer keep track of how often you bring up poop in a typical day. I don't know how it's happened but I freaking live with a boy now. How the hell did this happen? How in the world did you go from this mature two-year old who would discuss Obama and the other Presidents with, to this three-year old who giggles while asking for the umpteenth time "Mama, how do you spell 'poopie head'?"

When you were sick for two days, you were so lethargic and silent, it broke my heart. There you were, all gangly and skinny and pale, laying on the couch by me while I worked. Then that night, I put you to bed, and in the morning, you'd turned back into your normal self. Except that you had all. these. words. pent up in you, that you hadn't used from not talking for two days and you had to get them all out. And so you talked. and talked. and talked. Just this verbal barrage of words. and more words. and even more words. I felt like no amount of sandbags could stop your flood of words and eventually, my brain folded up into itself to get away from all those words while we were driving in the car. But as soon as you'd notice, you'd yell at me "I'm talking to you, Mama! You need to talk to me!" And then you'd continue, just word, after word, after word.

I have no idea where you get this from.

Ok. I do. This is where someone would make a lame mention of an overused analogy about apples falling and trees.

Your father shaved your beautiful hair off. I guess buzzed is the proper term. Either way, your gorgeous hair? It's gone. We had to, because of the lice, so just be grateful you aren't a girl, because your life at school would be a lot more difficult right now if you were born the opposite sex.

There are no pictures yet of the new haircut, simply because it was horrid. Your father and aunt tried cutting chunks of hair out that had nits before settling on buzzing it, and so for a few days, you looked like you'd gotten into a fight with a weedwhacker.

Have I told you lately that we're still kind of new to this parenting gig?

Your relationship with your brother has blossomed these past few weeks. He's in total awe of you, and you love nothing more than to make him laugh. The other day, we were at the pharmacy, Tiny Man in his car seat in the cart, you walking along us. At the cash register, you asked me if you could play with Tiny Man, so I took his car seat and put him on the ground. You began making funny noises and he laughed, which made you laugh, which made him laugh again, until you were both laughing at each other so hard, that the whole store turned around to watch the two of you. It was one of those perfect moments, the kind you want to bottle, the kind that for a moment, made the world a brighter day. My heart swelled, and I watched the people around us, and their faces brightened up, their step seemed a little lighter, and it was all because of the two of you.

In a world, that can be filled at times with sadness and heartbreak, you and Tiny Man continue to bring joy to everything you touch. You've both made my life so much better and every day, I should wake up and thank you for that.

So thank you.

I love you, my Little Man,


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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

At Least I Have a Plan In Case of a Lay Off

If there's one thing that's come from this blog, is that I've become the source of obvious tips for clueless parents like myself. Things like don't get out of your car when it's still in drive, when your child is strapped into the back seat.

To most people, this would seem obvious. But I'm thinking if it's not to me, surely there are other parents who would appreciate my wisdom and the things I've learned along the way, right?

And I've got a new chapter for this book now. It'll be called (and don't commit me to this, it's still a work in progress) If You Have Cream-Colored Carpets And a Preschooler Who's Vomitting Every Fifteen Minutes, You Shoudn't Buy the Bright Red Pedialyte.

Because I'm thinking there have got to be other parents who go to the pharmacy, see all the different flavors of Pedialyte and think the non-flavored clear kind? That doesn't sound too tasty! But cherry flavor, yum! That must taste just like a melted snow cone, let's go for that!

Damn me and the fact I think like a five-year old, rather than the 33 year-old woman I am.

Also? When I was in college? I never thought that 15 years later, I'd still be patting someone's back as they're bent in half over a toilet. I'm just saying.

And if I didn't outgrow that, where the hell are the hot 20-year old boys I was making out with then? Because I should at least get the benefits too.



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